Blackhawks

Blackhawks make seven picks in 2015 NHL Draft

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Blackhawks make seven picks in 2015 NHL Draft

SUNRISE, Fla. – Roy Radke had just been drafted by the Blackhawks on Saturday afternoon but he was already well acquainted with several players currently in the system.

“I’m good friends with Ryan Hartman, Anthony Louis, Vinny Hinostroza,” said Radke, who hails from Geneva, about an hour west of Chicago. “I grew up with all of those guys.”

The number of NHL prospects who either grew up near Chicago or who played in Chicago-area leagues is increasing, and the Blackhawks added another to their group when they drafted Radke with their sixth-round (164th overall) selection on Saturday. Mark Kelley, the Blackhawks’ senior director of amateur scouting, said it’s not necessarily the team’s plan to take kids from the area. It’s just those local kids have filled needs the past few years.

“I think what it’s really a product of us so many good players are coming from Chicago,” Kelley said.

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And the Blackhawks aren’t the only team taking notice of Chicago-area kids. The Arizona Coyotes drafted Christian Fischer of Wayne, also about an hour from Chicago, with the 32nd overall pick.

“The youth program’s taken off there tremendously, and a lot is [due to] the Blackhawks,” Fischer said. “The kids go to the games, they see the whole deal there and they want to play. They have four travel teams there, a lot of guys coming in from Chicago. I think the Hawks have a lot to do with that.”

Radke is new to the Blackhawks organization but he’s already among friends, thanks to Chicago’s burgeoning hockey scene.

“Since Chicago’s been so good recently, a lot of young kids have been trying to play hockey in the area. That’s why it’s expanding so much,” Radke said. “I’ve always loved the Blackhawks, so it’s a dream come true.”

SIZEABLE DRAFT

The Blackhawks got a little bit of everything from everywhere at Day 2 of the NHL Draft.

“This year we have a Slovakian, a Finnish kid, a Swedish kid, a Chicago kid, a Buffalo kid, a Boston kid,” Kelley said. “There’s seven of them, so it’s a United Nations.”

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All locations aside, the Blackhawks were happy with their draft, which didn’t begin until Saturday morning when they selected Ontario native Graham Knott with the 54th overall (second-round) pick.

Knott had 25 goals and 18 assists in 59 games with the Niagara IceDogs (OHL) in 2014-15. The Blackhawks took four forwards and three defensemen. They also acquired something else that they’ve been lacking: size. Five of their picks are 6-foot-2 or taller.

“Any time you get size it’s nice,” Kelley said. “We’re always looking for players we think are smart and can skate. I think this year those guys are big, also.”

Rounds Player Position Country Amateur League Amateur Team
Round 2, 54th overall pick Graham Knott LW Canada OHL Niagara
Round 3, 91st overall pick Dennis Gilbert D United States USHL Chicago
Round 4, 121st overall pick Ryan Shea D United States HIGH-MA Boston College H.S.
Round 5, 151st overall pick Radovan Bondra RW Slovakia SLOVAKIA Kosice
Round 6, 164th overall pick Roy Radke RW United States OHL Barrie
Round 6, 181st overall pick Joni Tuulola D Finland FINLAND HPK
Round 7, 211th overall pick John Dahlstrom RW Sweden SWEDEN-JR. Frolunda Jr.

Are the Blackhawks preparing to keep Kirby Dach on NHL roster?

Are the Blackhawks preparing to keep Kirby Dach on NHL roster?

The Blackhawks will eventually have a decision to make on No. 3 overall pick Kirby Dach, whose clock is officially ticking after he made his NHL debut over the weekend and scored his first goal in his second game two nights later.

The Blackhawks, as we know, can give Dach up to nine NHL games before having to decide whether they want to burn the first year of his entry-level contract. Whether he makes it past nine games or not, if the Blackhawks don't feel like he's pro ready for the full season, the only other option for the team is to send Dach back to the Saskatoon Blades in the WHL because he's not eligible to play in the AHL full-time this season due to CHL rules.

That being said, it appears the Blackhawks are at least preparing for the possibility that Dach could be kept on the NHL roster beyond the nine-game tryout this season.

TSN's Bob McKenzie reported Wednesday on NBCSN that: "You don't have to make a decision on this right now, so Stan Bowman and the Chicago Blackhawks won't, but if you twisted their arm and said you do have to make a decision, I think they're definitely leaning towards this guy being an NHL player this season."

The roster move the Blackhawks made earlier in the day indicates the organization is making sure it can afford Dach's services in case he does stay the whole season.

Connor Murphy was placed on long-term injured reserve (LTIR) Wednesday with a groin injury, which means he'll be sidelined for a minimum of 10 games and 24 days. By putting him on LTIR instead of regular injured reserve, the Blackhawks get some cap relief and that’s noteworthy when you factor in Dach's potential performance bonuses that could reach up to $2.5 million.

When Dach was activated and recalled, the Blackhawks exceeded the 7.5 percent cushion in total amount of potential performance bonuses by $595,000, according to Cap Friendly. That number was then applied to the cap, which put the Blackhawks near the upper limit. So every dollar counts, considering the bonus money rolls over to next season's salary cap if there isn’t enough financial space at the end of the season to absorb the hits.

The other noteworthy item from McKenzie's report: The Blackhawks aren't too worried about burning the first year of Dach's entry-level contract. They're more-so looking ahead to the 40-game mark, which would put him one year closer to becoming an unrestricted free agent — a player must be 27 or older as of June 30 or accrue seven seasons to become a UFA, and hitting 40 games counts as a full season if they're on the NHL roster, injured or not.

The Blackhawks have said all along that there's no set plan on Dach's future and his performance will dictate what's going to happen. But the team is prepared for every scenario, and that includes keeping him past the nine-game tryout and 40-game benchmark.

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Connor Murphy placed on long-term injured reserve

Connor Murphy placed on long-term injured reserve

The Blackhawks have announced that defenseman Connor Murphy will be placed on long-term injured reserve (LTIR) due to a groin injury.

Earlier reports stated the 26-year-old Murphy would miss “a couple of weeks” after leaving the second period of the Blackhawks game against the Golden Knights last night. Murphy had previously sat out of the Blackhawks season opener in Prague for the same injury.

LTIR is designed for teams navigating the cap hit when a player is out with a long-term injury. According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), this means the player will be out for at least 24 calendar days and 10 regular season games. While LTIR doesn’t create cap space, it does allow a team to replace the player on LTIR with any number of other players to fill the roster hole.

In the case of Murphy, the Blackhawks recoup his $3.85M cap hit for the duration he’s LTIR. The Blackhawks can go over the cap hit for the time being, but once they activate him his entire cap hit goes back on the books. Essentially, the Blackhawks can go over the cap for the time being up to what Murphy was making, plus whatever cap space they had beforehand.

As for who will take Murphy’s place in the lineup, the Blackhawks have a few options. So far, it has been announced they have recalled defenseman Dennis Gilbert from the Rockford IceHogs.

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